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Will Maoists apologise again?

Grief turned to frustration and then to anger, with people searching for relatives who had been travelling on the ill-fated Gyaneshwari Express that derailed on Friday unable to find them.

india Updated: May 30, 2010 00:39 IST
B. Vijay Murty

Grief turned to frustration and then to anger, with people searching for relatives who had been travelling on the ill-fated Gyaneshwari Express that derailed on Friday unable to find them. Many of them, who flocked to West Midnapore village where the crash occurred, lashed out at the government’s offer of compensation.

“We don’t want Rs 3 lakh compensation,” said Lalit Maheshwari, from Salt Lake, Kolkata. “We will give the government Rs 5 lakh provided they find us the bodies of our loved ones.”

Preliminary investigations confirmed Maoists had sabotaged the tracks leading to the derailment and deaths. A week earlier, in Chhattisgarh, their South Bastar unit chief Ramanna had apologised for blowing up a private bus that killed 15 civilians.

Though the toll in the train tragedy touched 124 — all civilians — on Saturday, there was no apology from the Maoists this time.

Kuldip Kaur of Bengal’s Raniganj town spent all of Friday and Saturday circling the mangled S-4 and S-5 bogies. Every 10 to 15 minutes, she’d run to the coaches, peep inside and return dejected. “My only son, Paramjit Singh (26), was in S-5. He is untraceable,” she said. Around 9 am, when a crane lifted the coaches from the tracks and dumped them in nearby fields, bodies fell in a heap. Paramjit still could not identify her son.

“Only the goods train engine remains, which will be removed soon. A few more bodies could be trapped under it,” said A.P. Mishra, general manager, South Eastern Railway.

Mewalal Shaw, of Kolkata, searched in vain for the bodies of his children, Pawan (23) and Puneet (25), who were in S-5. “They were going for a wedding,” said a family friend. Kolkata Surendra Singh’s family was also going for a wedding, to Bhilai. “My wife and three children were in this bogie,” Surendra said.

Saran Singh, an engineering student from Howrah, sat in a field, in despair after failing to locate his brother, Gaurav (19). “He was going to Raipur for higher studies,” Saran said.